Thursday, August 18, 2011

Legion of Super-Heroes #16 Review, and Announcements

Some notes. This is the last Legion comic before the big DC relaunch. It's going to give me more time than usual between issues before the new Legion series start, and I plan to use it to good effect. The Where Should I Start with the Legion post could use an update, as could the Legion Roster and Chronological Legion Roster pages. Plus I want to reread Levitz's section of the retroboot and see how it holds up all together. I'll let you know when I've done those things.

I don't expect a lot of continuity changes from LSHv6 to LSHv7. Flashpoint gives Levitz the opportunity to make such changes, of course, but then he made it clear when he took over with LSHv6 #1 that he felt free to switch stuff around however he wanted anyway, so it's not like he's been waiting for an opening. There could be a couple of things. Superman and the Legion should still have the same basic relationship, give or take, but I guess the whole Supergirl extravaganza is up in the air again; oh well.

plok at A Trout in the Milk is washing his hands of DC and Marvel for reasons he explains himself. I support this. I can't bring myself to join him in his stand, partly because I want to keep running this blog, but I've thought about it, and I suggest that all of you do too. I have not finished with this issue in my mind and I will have more to say about it in days to come.

I'm planning on going to Fan Expo in Toronto at the end of August. Anyone else going to be there? If so, I plan on making myself easily identifiable: I'll be wearing an Ottawa Fat Cats baseball hat (bright red, logo looks like the letter O with a cat's-eye pupil in it). The expression on my face may suggest that I hate all people but that's just how my face works; if you see me walking around, go ahead and introduce yourself.

What Happened That You Have to Know About: Saturn Queen and the blue space dude try to turn Earth-Man to their side, but Sodam Yat (on Oa) and the Legion lend him their willpower and hold them off. Other Legionnaires defeat the rest of the LSV quite handily. Dyogene shows up to confront the blue space dude, and Mon-El and Earth-Man pull a nice power stunt where Mon uses his ring to let Earth-Man soak up the powers of all the Legionnaires, thereby making him powerful enough that he can absorb the blue space cove's powers. I think that's how it works. Anyway, this finishes off the blue space gink, but Earth-Man is killed in the process and the Legion wraps things up. Mon-El quits the GLC and it sure sounds like Harmonia Li's becoming a Legionnaire.

Even after all this time I can't help but think that Levitz has had to pare down his storytelling to fit it into 20 pages. There wasn't so much going on in this issue that we should have needed more than 20 pages to finish it, but it still seemed like he had to rush through the action to hit all the points he wanted to hit. Just me, maybe.

I'm going to have to go back and check the last couple issues of Adventure and also LSH #15. I want to know how all this fits together. First, there's the whole thing with Cosmic King and the attack on Legion HQ. Then there's this part in this issue where Brainy says he expected Cosmic Boy to arrive; well, where's Cosmic Boy? He doesn't appear in this comic book. I can't keep track of all these freaking superheroes. Why couldn't I have been a Fantastic Four fan instead? You don't have these kinds of problems with the Fantastic Four.

Let me see if I understand this right with the blue space joe. He's what Krona released at the birth of the multiverse, right? Is that what Levitz is implying? When Krona looked back at the birth of the universe, and interfered with it, this blue space chappie is what messed everything up from there? I wish they could have pinned a name on him.

Earth-Man's story seems to have come to an end, and I can't say I'm going to miss him. There were always a few basic ways it could have gone: he backslides and betrays the Legion, he continues as a Legionnaire that they can never be quite sure of, he dies heroically. Levitz picked door number three, which is a resolution if not an innovative one, and now we don't have to put up with Earth-Man in our Legion comics anymore.

Harmonia Li has been an intriguing character since she first appeared, and I've quite liked her. Never thought of her as a Legionnaire before now, though. She's not really the Legion type, you know? Legionnaires are young, one way or another, even Mon-El, and Li is a grownup and has been so for quite a while. Not that I have any objection; it's just different.

- sorta looks like the first speech balloon on panel 2 of page 10 is misattributed. Should be Earth-Man saying that, right, not Dreamy?
- it's always fun seeing Brainy punch people out. Not often there's someone he can handle, but that just makes it better
- the stuff on the last page, where Levitz muses at us on the nature of faith, wisdom, and will, is just part of the price we pay for having Paul Levitz write comics for us. Overall we're coming out ahead on the deal
- so who was that villain in the pink pig costume or whatever that was?
- about time Colossal Boy did something right

Art: 78 panels/20 pages = 3.9 panels/page. 2 single-panel pages, 1 double-page spread of 8 panels.

Daniel HDR fills in this month, and does fine. Although. He may have been kinda rushed on the issue, maybe? I think? The reason I say so is that there is not a lot of detail on the backgrounds here. Lots of panels where the background is basically a solid colour. I have to say I'm not really a fan of that, but he does render the characters pretty well, and that's job 1.

Membership Notes: Earth-Man dies, Mon-El comes back full-time, and it seems like Harmonia Li joins up, although I guess we'll find out more about that later.

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Blogger karl said...

I havent got this issue yet so im relying on spoilers and other sources such as yours for whats going on...I take it then that Earth-Man's dead? Yes! I couldnt bear this character at all, not just the racist undertones that we were first introduced to but the very idea that the LSH would even think of having him in their group, even after they were forced to admit him. Glad hes gone, and the idea of Mon-El boosting his power...nice touch and inventive use of both their abilities.
I take it Shady's resigned and gone off with his remains? Tasmia, dear, he was a bloody racist, you are an alien with blue skin DUH!!!! You should know much better than that.
Professor Li? As a possible Legionnaire? Thought she was abit older than their membership allows. And shes too distant and remote as a character to feel empathy. I also get the vibe that Colossal Boy will resign when Yera gets stranded/killed in the 21st century. Im just relieved he [and Polar Boy] werent killed off as I feared!
From what youve written, it seems this volume has been given a good send-off with most sub-plots resolved. I am SO looking forward to the new look LSH books!

3:57 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I take it Shady's resigned and gone off with his remains?

She's gone off with his remains but I didn't understand that she had resigned. I'll go back and look but I don't think so.

I am SO looking forward to the new look LSH books!

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss, karl.

4:00 PM  
Blogger karl said...

Oh, Id read somewhere else that she had resigned; as I havent got the book yet that was the general gist. Apparently the new books take place several months after this issue; not being a fan of the last couple of times the group was split into two teams I must say Im looking forward quite happily to the next volume; it seems three new resignations, two deaths and two possibly three new Legionnaires will seriously shake things up!
[p.s. all this pure conjecture as its only what Ive heard!].

5:54 PM  
Anonymous Madman2001 said...

I was disappointed in how both Adventure and LSH both ended, in part because it was never quite clear HOW the adversary was defeated.

How did Variable Lad defeat Chemical King? Did he somehow reflect CK's turn-you-to-dust power back on CK? Did CK die?

It's even less clear how Earth-man defeated that blue nameless dude. Like another poster elsewhere, I actually went back thru the issue, thinking I had missed some important panel or even page. Did the blue dude die?

I think in both cases a little explanatory prose would have been useful. In my case, it was sorely needed.

Thanks for your blog,

7:26 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

My pleasure.

Did he somehow reflect CK's turn-you-to-dust power back on CK? Did CK die?

I believe the answers here are yes and yes.

It's even less clear how Earth-man defeated that blue nameless dude.

It is, yeah. I wonder if we're supposed to understand that Earth-Man didn't just copy the blue space guy's power, but absorbed it, took it away from him. Which he's not supposed to be able to do, right? So I dunno.

7:40 PM  
Anonymous stile86 said...

I feel like such a dope. Last issue I was wondering who was going to die? Who would get picked? Before reading this issue I looked back at the last page of the previous issue as I always do to remind myself of the plot and Wham! it was blindingly obvious that it would be Earthman making the supreme sacrifice.

As fro the battle itslef, I'm not too fussed taht the exact mechanism is unclear. Blue dude (who I should have guessed was the embodiment of the chaos released by Krona and reawakened by the Time Institute bozos) declared he would destroy them and Earthman takes his power and uses it back. It works for me.

Not as good as some of his earlier work but it still ties most bits up for me.

4:35 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

It wasn't obvious to me that it'd be Earth-Man, or, rather, it was too obvious that it might be. (Similarly Star Boy.) I figured Levitz would want to keep Earth-Man around, for the conflict.

9:53 AM  
Blogger karl said...

Im just relieved Mr. Levitz didnt keep Earth-Man around. I must say I rather feared it would be either Star Boy, Polar Boy or [particularly] Colossal Boy who'd die, as theyd had some poor writing/characterization these past few issues, which I took to understand was leading up to A Big Sacrifice. Thank goodness thetyr still here!

1:16 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Yeah. But I would have liked a more intriguing ending.

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Called it right about Earth-Man. Wasn't hard;not many other ways a character with that kind of baggage could've ended up.
Favorite scene:Colossal Boy using Zymyr to score a strike with the LSV.Makes up for all of CB's retroboot klutziness.
Found this "final" issue a bit more satisfactory than I was anticapating,but then I wasn't hoping for much.We're left with plenty of loose ends and unanswered questions,but I find myself unable to care if anything gets resolved.Time for me to get off this treadmill.
Paul Levitz may not have lost it,but he's forgotten what to do with it.It's saying something when his best story on the retro-Legion was the LSV special,where the LSH barely appeared.There were external forces affecting Paul's work,but that's only part of the story.Maybe he's afraid of doing something with the LSH that he's already done before,and that hampers his creativity.Sad,but I'll have to look elsewhere for a Legion fix.
Luckily,there's some non-Levitz Legion on the way.We've got the LSH meeting Kirk,Spock & Co....just had a nerdgasm.We've got Legion Lost--Legionnaires in the 21st. century always has possibilities,and Fabian Nicieza may bring a fresh angle to it.As for Paul,I consider these 16 issues of his I bought pretty much a waste of money,so I'm not buying his next 16 issues(or Secret Origins)to balance things out.I'll miss out on some great artwork,but that's the price I'll have to pay,or rather,not pay.I'll get out my wallet when Paul gets his groove back

1:48 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

The only other easy thing to do with Earth-Man would have been to have him turn evil again. I dunno; if I haven't given up on the Legion yet, I certainly wouldn't now.

3:36 PM  
Blogger Dylan said...

Looking at the solicit, I just realized something in regards to the new Legion Lost book that's coming. While Yera's a shapeshifter and Tyroc looks human (and depending on the day and artist, so does Brin), the majority of the team is made up of people with no chance of blending in on present-day Earth (unless Dawny tells people she's Hawkgirl, I suppose).

11:02 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I noticed that too. I wonder what Nicieza's planning on doing about it.

11:10 PM  
Anonymous Rob said...

I always wondered whether it was an editorial decision that forced Levitz to introduce Earth-Man as a Legionnaire. After Geoff Johns' Earth-Man story, my guess (and it is just an unsubstantiated guess) is that Levitz was given some editorial mandate to introduce E-Man.

If it wasn't an editorial decision, then I'm even more disappointed in the writing. Given E-Man's behaviour in that earlier story arc, I found it simply too incredulous that he would so quickly become a valiant member of the Legion and ultimately sacrifice his life.

Anyway, I see this 16-issue volume as a precursor. Now that Levitz has a clean slate to work from and the new shorter issue is the new standard, I hope he can deliver on some finely crafted stories.

3:51 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

We may never know if it was an editorial decision, but my uninformed guess is that it wasn't. I just don't get that vibe from it.

Given E-Man's behaviour in that earlier story arc, I found it simply too incredulous that he would so quickly become a valiant member of the Legion and ultimately sacrifice his life.

Well, try this idea on. We know that Earth-Man soaks up superpowers from the people around him. What if he also absorbs, oh, let's call it character? A little bit. Slowly. Imperceptibly but inexorably and gradually. Not enough to make any difference in that Zoraz/Tyroc story from the '70s, and not enough to make any difference when he's still hanging around the sickos in his Justice League a lot of the time. But give him the kind of exposure that comes from being a full-fledged Legionnaire for a few months... maybe this is the kind of effect you get.

8:48 AM  
Anonymous AJay said...

Maybe Absorbency Boy was just happy to have achieved his long desired goal of becoming a Legionnaire. Tasmia has always been attracted to powerful men and I can see if Lar was a bit remote. It all sort of made sense to me. Still I wonder what became of the blue chaos guy.

10:03 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Maybe Absorbency Boy was just happy to have achieved his long desired goal of becoming a Legionnaire.

You'd think he might have been, yeah, but if he was he didn't seem to show it.

10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't given up on the Legion, but I am giving the Levitz Legion a rest. Luckily,there's other Legion product to peruse.I can reread my back issues,and I still have Legion Lost to look forward to.

My Levitz boycott is a reluctant one.I hate missing out on Chris Batista's art on Secret Origin,but I doubt the Legion's origin has any more secrets I need to read. The "untold tales" run in Adventure didn't whet my taste for any more such retellings.

If I come across a copy of a new Levitz comic in a library, I'll give it a look.If there's a groundswell of praise for Paul's latest run,I may buy a copy.But for now,a trial seperation is what I need.If DC wants fans to support the Legion,give us a Legion comic worth buying.

11:49 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Don't forget the LSH/Star Trek thing; that has a chance to be really interesting.

11:56 AM  
Blogger Mela said...

I wanted to like Levitz's run, I really did. I liked the whole resolution to the Durlan storyline (people have done worse to ensure they keep their meal ticket), and I LOVED the Academy in Adventure. But there's a few things about it that keep me from looking too forward to the new title next month:

1. You build up a big confrontation with a shocking villain and you give us a vague personification-of-evil creature beaten by a Care Bear Stare. That somehow kills Earth-Man. I understand if editorial made him change the villain or rush the ending, but it seemed way too vague & cheap, at least to me.

2. I was personally bothered by the way that the majority of the stuff Johns introduced was shuffled off-screen. XS? Out on some vague spiritual journey that, thanks to Flashpoint, may never be developed as planned. Gates? Spin-off title, AWOL as of the second issue cover. About the only thing that he stuck with was Mysa as the Black Witch, which allowed him to create Glorith & play with "return of Mordru" threats. It felt like taking a lot of these toys out of play for no real reason.

3. I do not like Harmonia Li. She's entirely too breezy about blowing up an entire planet/moon and nearly obliterating an entire race. She's not so much intriguing as disturbing, and the Legionnaires' easy forgiveness of her seems very off. I'm hoping Levitz addresses how her total lack of empathy (which isn't excused by her being immortal) doesn't fit on a team on heroes and stops playing her like a borderline Mary Sue.

I'm still sticking with the Legion; I have no qualms about this addiction, and the promise of Comet Queen in the Legion proper is too good to pass up. I'm just hoping that Levitz will reach the standard associated with his name again (and is allowed to by editors - no tweaks, no ten-page Subway ads stealing pages, etc.). And that his foreshadowing of Dragonwing being a villain is misdirection, because I like her.

11:15 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

One thing I've been wondering is, how much of the stuff Levitz has been writing over the past year-and-change been stuff he actually wanted to write, and how much has been, "Now. I told you that story so I could tell you this one." At this point, he should have everything lined up how he wants it, and I'm hoping it gets better. Not that it's been bad... but I know he hasn't hit his upper range.

11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cosmic King and Variable Lad are not necessarily dead, just "presumed disintegrated". We all know what that means -- dead until not dead.

Cosmic King was never with the LSV on Utopia. The character that looked like him in the background was simply another escapee from Takron-Galtos in a similar outfit. Maybe Magno Lad?

I think we can dub the blue guy as "Kali". Per Wikipedia, "Kali Yuga is associated with the apocalyptic demon Kali, not to be confused with the goddess Kālī (read as Kaalee) (these are unrelated words in the Sanskrit language). The 'Kali' of Kali Yuga means 'strife, discord, quarrel, or contention.'"

I don't think Harmonia Li should be come a Legionnaire, but a tight Legion ally, perhaps.

It is quite intentional that the Legion Lost team has the most non-human of the team. (Possibly including Brin, if he still wolfs out.) Alastor's virus looks to turn people into monsters, so the Legionnaires will be assumed to be such themselves. Tyroc, as the apparent team leader, is included most likely to give another diversity boost to the New 52 DCU.

3:20 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I'm going to assume that they're dead until I hear otherwise.

That's probably the simplest answer for what's going on with Cosmic King.

I'm willing to give Harmonia Li a chance, and I think Quislet is the most nonhuman of Legionnaires. He's also the only new (well... sorta new) Legionnaire on the team, at least until they re-add XS or take on some Academy students.

3:33 PM  

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